Funding Crisis Hits Baby Ward

Frail newborn babies are being sent to England because there are not enough spaces in Welsh hospitals, it was claimed today. Calls have been made for more money to provide the specialist care and equipment to care for the babies born prematurely and weighing as little as a few pounds.

The demand has been made by Rhian Davies, the Assistant Children’s Commissioner for Wales, who was today visiting parents and staff at the neonatal unit at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales. Her visit organised by the South Wales Branch of Bliss – the premature baby charity, aims to raise awareness of the provision of care available for premature and sick newborns and the problems facing parents.

After meeting the specialist nurses and doctors, she said: “I am concerned the service in Wales is under-funded, underdeveloped and under-resourced. This situation often means that babies are being transported out of Wales for long distances – even as far as Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth or Taunton – in order to get the specialist care they need. We will be acting on what we learn and bringing our concerns to the attention of the Welsh Assembly Government.”

Stephanie Brown’s daughter Nayana, was born two months’ prematurely at the University Hospital of Wales, and her experience two years ago led her to set up a local Bliss support group. “It was a terrifying experience when the first time you see your baby is in a plastic box surrounded by machines, monitors and tubes,” she said.

“There was a concern there may not have been a bed in the special care baby unit and my baby would have to be transferred to Bristol. Fortunately this did not happen, although she was moved to the Royal Gwent after a few weeks because the cot was needed by another child who needed surgery.”

Stephanie, 28, of Caerphilly, said many parents whose babies had been in special care faced new problems when they got home. “It’s a feeling of isolation. You are battling alone with your baby, scared to go out because of the fear of catching germs, and concerned about allowing other people into you home for the same reason.

“This is a common feeling among parents of premature babies. I found everything very hard to deal with. I was desperate to meet someone who had been in my position but there was no local support around. By running the group now I can help make sure that other parents don’t have to feel cut off like I did, and that there is somewhere they can go and talk and feel normal.”

A spokeswoman for the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust said: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for children needing neonatal care and are working with Health Commission Wales to try to ensure we provide the level of care that we consider necessary.”